WASHINGTON — The Occupational Safety and Health Administration today began holding public hearings for the notice of proposed rulemaking on occupational exposure to crystalline silica. This marks the beginning of an intensive three weeks of public comment on the proposal, with hearings scheduled through Friday, April 4.
"We look forward to receiving feedback from our stakeholders on our proposal, and we're grateful for the continuing high level of public engagement throughout the rulemaking," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. "This is an open process and the input we receive will help us ensure that a final rule adequately protects workers, is feasible for employers, and is based on the best available evidence."
OSHA's proposed rule seeks to lower worker exposure to crystalline silica, which causes silicosis, an incurable lung disease. Leading scientific organizations, including the American Cancer Society, have also confirmed the causal relationship between silica and lung cancer. The proposal is based on extensive review of scientific and technical evidence, consideration of current industry consensus standards and consultation with stakeholders.
Members of the public may attend the sessions to listen to testimony from OSHA and other hearing participants. To learn more about the hearing procedures, visit http://www.osha.gov/silica/hearing_procedures.html. To view the hearing schedule, visit http://www.osha.gov/silica/hearing_schedule.html. Members of the public who filed a timely written notice of intention to appear can also ask questions of agency officials and other witnesses during the hearing. Following the hearings, OSHA will publish a transcript of the hearings and make it available to the public in the rulemaking docket, and hearing participants will have an opportunity to submit additional evidence and comments.
Published in the Federal Register on Sept. 12, 2013, OSHA's Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Occupational Exposure to Crystalline Silica aims to update the inconsistent and outdated permissible exposure limits for crystalline silica in general industry, construction and shipyards, as well as to establish other provisions to better protect workers. Additional information on the proposed rule, including five fact sheets, is available at http://www.osha.gov/silica/.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.